Online degrees have changed massively in the last few years. What was often considered a fringe option for those who had a career they didn’t want to actively leave has now become a great go-to option for many. Online degrees allow you to study right at home and, as a result, can help you save massively on your maintenance costs. They are perfect, particularly for those looking to transition their career into a new field or those looking to advance their career by earning a higher qualification.
As always, there is a bit of a debate on whether a degree is even necessary. While you can learn a lot while on the job, there are many roles out there that have a lock on them that can only be opened with the right qualification. Nursing is one of the best examples. You need to have an accredited degree under your belt to take the nurse licensure exam. You need to be licensed in order to work.
Regardless of whether you are a professional looking to start a new career in nursing or a nurse looking to advance your career by earning an MSN or higher qualification, the result remains the same: online education is the way to go. If you are a nurse or are in a similar career situation, use this guide to easily get started on building a successful routine right at home.
Ensure Your Degree Is the Right Fit for You
You do not want to spend an hour longer than you have to on your degree. Looking for ways to accelerate your degree is smart, and not just because of the effort you have saved for yourself. Every credit you transfer over can help you save and reach your goal sooner. This is particularly useful for those looking to transfer into a new career.
The good news is that most programs allow you to do just that. In nursing, there is even an established pathway to help those who already have undergraduate degrees to fast-track through their BSN credits. Changing careers to nursing is easy when you can transfer those STEM-related credits from your existing bachelor’s towards your BSN. Instead of the full four years or longer, you can become a nurse in just 15 months with the ABSN option.
If there isn’t an established option to help you fast-track through your next degree, get in touch with the admissions board. At minimum, you should be able to transfer a few credits over. If you are only a few credits away from a fast-track option like the ABSN, it may be in your better interest to take that prerequisite course individually and then apply for the ABSN or your field’s equivalent afterward.
Understand Your In-Person Requirements
If your new field has a state exam and license requirements, chances are you will have a few in-person requirements. In nursing, you often have both on-campus residencies that may last a week at a time and also clinical placement. Clinical placement should occur where you live, however, so you can continue to get your clinical hours without having to relocate or pay for accommodation on top of your rent.
Simply being aware of your in-person requirements (if there are any) can help you plan in advance by saving up, getting in touch with your employer if necessary, and also just mentally preparing for the switch.
Improve Your Health to Improve Your Mind
A great routine that either works around your career or works to keep you productive and learning throughout the day is great, but if you feel anxious, exhausted, or like you are in a brain fog, there is no amount of routine that can help. What can help is taking care of your health.
Starting with your physical health is a great idea. Improving your diet, drinking more water, exercising more to improve your blood circulation, and of course, getting a better night’s rest are all essential to improving your brain health and mood. If you find that those actions alone are not enough even after a few weeks of consistent work, then seek out a therapy option. There are many online options today that have made therapy more accessible than before. While therapy is a journey, it is an essential self-care act that may help set you on the right path. If your mental health is clinical, you may be referred to a specialist who can get you started on a combined treatment of therapy and medication to help you finally start taking your life back.
It is best to start with improving your health this way first, as it can take time to find a new normal and start feeling the full benefits of a healthy lifestyle. Switching to a healthy diet, for example, can be difficult because of food cravings. Finding the right therapist and combination of treatment options takes time. By giving yourself that time to get on top of your health, you will immediately be able to take greater strides towards your goals.
Create a Productive At-Home Work Environment
If you want to really stay productive and on track day in and day out on your degree, you are going to want to get started on a great home office. If you already have a great workspace because you work from home, you are all set! If you don’t yet have a great WFH area, it is time to create one.
You want great light, minimal distractions, and a solid desk. You will also want a few organizational tools like folders and a shelf to keep your study materials in order and out of the way when you aren’t using them.
If you live in a small space, then create a study kit. This means that you transform your kitchen table into a study desk, for example, or you have a small desk temporarily during your degree set up near the window so that you can get those white-light benefits.
Plan Three Short Study Periods Per Day
Breaking up your education is a great way to stay focused, stay productive, and actually absorb the information that you are learning. If you consider how on-campus education is structured, you will find that an hour to a maximum of two-hour study blocks is far more effective than trying to get through all of your education requirements at once.
Try to keep each study block to one subject, topic, or chapter. If you are listening to a lecture, this is relatively easy to do, but it can be more difficult if you are working on independent study or readings. Keep it to a set amount of time, keep it to one topic, and not only will you find it easier, but you will also actually be able to digest the information and understand it better overall.
How to Make Revision Easy
When it comes to revision, you want short sessions again and again over a very long period of time. Cramming before the exam is a terrible way to go about it because you may be able to remember the information for the exam but not for your actual job. A great tip is to actually create voice notes or to use a text-to-voice tool to turn your notes into voice recordings. You can then listen to these notes while you do your chores, while you are on your commute, while you exercise, and so much more. Many people find they learn and remember better when they are physically moving, so this can be a lifesaver tip for those that find sitting and trying to go over the same information over and over again difficult.
Get Social with Learning
One of the most jarring differences between online education and campus education is the lack of social connections. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Get in touch with your peers and create an online study group. A group chat alone can help you feel connected to others who understand what you are going through, even if it’s just how terribly worded a certain section is or how you don’t understand a new concept.
For the best results, however, you will want to actively learn together. You can split up tasks and create better study notes when you work with a team rather than on your own. You can also work through an issue together so that you understand better.
With group chats, online video calls, and even cloud-based applications that allow you to work simultaneously on one document, there are many ways to work together with your peers in a way that suits you.Of course, if you live near some of your peers, meeting up is a great way to make friends and study together, and considering you are all doing the same degree, a great way to network. Being social is smart because, at the end of the day, knowing who is in your industry and learning from one another is going to help your career.